About 30 years ago, Leroy Earl Fuller and his son Stanley Earl Fuller had a simple idea to create a laid-back burger and beer joint. When the restaurant started, there was no question about what the name would be. It had to be called Earls. The restaurant quickly took off because, well, who would say no to burgers & beer? So they hired talented people and travelled the world to taste, drink and get inspired.
Then they came back and applied all of that to the menu. And with that came attention and awards and even more talented people. A lot has changed since those early days, but Earls is still a family business filled with people who are genuinely passionate about great food and drinks, served in an inviting environment.
In the busy restaurant-focused world of Earls, Jason McLean, the Director of People Systems and Technology for Earls, shared his thoughts. “We used email to make changes to documents and send them around. Often, this became more and more of an issue when versions were in question.”
The growing, creative company also had no collaboration or approved storage platform. “Our team members were using their personal Gmail accounts, DropBox, and other cloud-based solutions for email and file storage. But if they ever left the company, that meant they’d take their data with them. We had no governance, and no control.”
In the past, each Earls restaurant location usually had one shared computer in the back of the house, where people used to line up to view email and documents. “These are the people who most affect a guest’s positive experience. Getting people off computers and back to our guests was imperative.”
The Earls team looked at both Microsoft Office 365 and at Google Apps for Work. The Earls team felt that Google had a more positive, business-centric approach. Also, the Earls executive team saw the projected ROI, something interesting happened. “Though they all used Outlook at the corporate office, once we determined that the change would drive value for the 90% of our company that serves customers, we made the decision to go Google,” said Jason.
“Agosto helped us with a change management and training plan. We have a very young workforce, so our learning curve was really shallow. Most of the team already had personal Google Apps accounts, so they hit the ground running. We had a three-stage rollout, with our core IT going Google first, for about six weeks, with no issues. Then we moved our early adopters – a full 10% of the company who elected to deploy Google Apps early – also with no issues. The rest of the team followed, and it all went well.”
“Working with Agosto was really great. Sometimes I thought to myself, it’s quiet – too quiet. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it felt too easy. Over the past year now of using Google Apps, we have truly empowered employees to be more innovative and productive. Agosto and Google Apps have been a big part of that.”
Jason McLean, Director of People Systems and Technology, Earls
The move to Google Apps has been a good experience for Earls. “One of the reasons we have been so successful is that we have had executive support,” said Jason. “Our president Mo started at Earls as a kitchen recruit many years ago. Even though he was uncomfortable at first with the change in technology, he knew it wasn’t all about him. He filmed a video using his iPhone, telling the team about Google Apps as a way to get people off computers, as a way to get docs into a shared system designed for collaboration, and he sent the video to the whole company. Instead of this being an IT mandated change, it was an executive-led initiative that inspired the whole company.”
“We need to be sure our customers have a good experience every time they enter one of our stores. That’s where most of our employees are, and that’s where we generate revenue and return visits. If we have happy, efficient workers in our restaurants, they will pass that feeling on to our customers.”
Earls chefs and store managers were excited about moving to Google. “They’re a pretty innovative bunch already,” said Jason. “Google Apps has shown them how much better we can be. Using Drive to share our recipes, safety information and all other paperwork means our people know that when they access a document or spreadsheet, they’re working from the only real-time source of truth.”
Team members can view email, have a quick chat with corporate or make any updates to documents from their mobile phones, and then get back to keeping guests happy.
“We saw a positive change right away from going Google. This is in our culture – we’re entrepreneurs. With Google Apps, entire stores are sharing techniques, getting more efficient and adding functionality.”
“Working with Agosto was really great,” said Jason. “Sometimes I thought to myself, it’s quiet – too quiet. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, because it felt too easy. Over the past year now of using Google Apps, we have truly empowered employees to be more innovative and productive. Agosto and Google Apps have been a big part of that.”